Author: Findswoman Title: Therapy Time with Zarney Kylo and Friends Era: Saga-ST (TFA-era) Characters: Finn, Rey, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, General Armitage Hux, Captain Phasma, and an unfortunate OC. Genre: Humor, whimsy, crackfic, Dare Challenge Summary: A very unlikely group therapy session, and its very unlikely consequences. Notes: Written for the 2017 Mods’ Dare Challenge, in which I received the following dare from Lady_Misty: Whoof! I hope what follows does this justice. Thanks, once again, to Ewok Poet and Raissa Baiard for invaluable beta-reading and feedback. Therapy Time with Zarney Kylo and Friends “Hel-lo everybody! How are we all doing today?” Thus the counselor—a portly, jovial Lasat whose rather squeaky voice seemed unsuited to his girth—greeted the motley group assembled before him. Besides an “Um, hi?” from the brown-haired girl, a timid wave from the dark-skinned fellow in the leather jacket, and a curt nod from the carrot-topped officer, he received no response. “Why don’t we all go around the circle and say our name and one thing that we like?” continued the Lasat. “Ooh, and you know what? Make it something that you like that begins with the same letter as your name! So, my name is Zarney, and I like z—” At that moment the other officer, a woman in gunmetal-gray armor with her blond hair in a severe pixie cut, cleared her throat. “In case you were not aware,” she began in icy tones, “we already went through this entire little . . . dog-and-equus show at our last meeting.” “Oh, but don’t you know, we do it every meeting, because it’s such a wonderful way to get to know each other . . . and to come to terms with our differences . . . and become friends!” A collective groan went up from those present as Zarney grinned an immense toothy grin. “Now, who wants to start us off?” “I’ll go,” said the young man in the leather jacket, raising a hand nonchalantly. “My name is Finn, and I like, um, food.” “Finn-who-likes-food! Hello, Finn-who-likes-food! And now can everybody say—” “Hello, Finn-who-likes-food,” chorused those present, none too enthusiastically. “And now it’s your turn.” The Lasat gestured to the young man next to Finn—a sullen youth all in black, with luxuriant, curly dark locks cascading over his shoulders. “I’m Kylo,” he muttered. “And I like . . . killing.” “Kylo-who-likes-killing! Why, hello, Kylo-who-likes—what the kr—I mean, let’s remember that this is a peaceful place, friends! And you?” Zarney looked quickly at the armored woman. “I,” she said, tossing her head back, “am Phasma, and I like ptarmigan.” “Now remember the directions,” Zarney explained, most gently and softly. “It needs to start with the same letter as your name.” “It does, you stupid idiot. Peth-trill-aurek-resh-mern-isk-grek-aurek-nern. Ptarmigan. Roasted with lemon, rosemary, and—” “Ooh, ooh!” The brown-haired girl was fairly bouncing out of her chair. “I love ptarmigan! Braised in chardonnay, with macédoine à la vinaigrette and sage-shallot beurre blanc . . .” She hesitated as she noticed the quizzical looks of the others. “Um . . . it was one of Unkar’s surprise gourmet portions once when I brought him the droid brain from a . . . anyway . . . sorry . . .” She trailed off. “Why don’t you go next?” suggested the Lasat counselor. Her name, it turned out, was Rey-who-likes-rainbows (“though I don’t get to see them much”). She was followed by the redheaded officer, who introduced himself as Armitage-who likes-alternative-pronk (“I once had the opportunity to hear Sixth Eye Blind in concert,” mused Phasma), and finally by a brown-haired man in a violently vermillion flightsuit—Poe-who-likes-podracing. “Aww yeah, how ’bout Takinoo Quadinaros at the Boonta Eve Classic!” exclaimed Finn, only to be silenced by a chill glance from Kylo. “Podracing. Hmph.” The black-clad youth shook his ebon locks. “Just the sort of cheap, common pursuit an unwashed plebe like you would favor. I prefer tennis.” “Also a beautiful sport,” put in Poe, adding with a wink, “made even more beautiful by—” “All righty, friends! I think it’s time for our quiet centering time now.” Another groan went up as Zarney took the floor again. “Now, I want you all to close your eyes and take five deep breaths that go all the way down to your core . . . a one . . . a two . . . that’s it . . . a three . . . Rey, is there something interesting that you see over there in the middle of the door?” “Um, no,” came the sheepish reply. “Okay, because I’m not sure you need to be looking over there right now.” Zarney smiled winningly as he spoke these words. I suppose not, thought Rey to herself—it’s an electronic lock anyway, and I only know how to mind-manipulate mechanical ones so far. Oh well. “Sorry.” “It’s okay. Now, why don’t we start over . . . a one . . . a two . . . there we go . . .” The quiet centering time lasted a full fifteen standard minutes and featured such thrilling highlights as breathing in-two-three-four, breathing out-two-three-four, imagining a big ball of energy in the middle of the room, and opening your heart to the sun (“we’re on a space station, for crying out loud,” grumbled Poe, upon which Finn elbowed him). The six members of the group endured it all as patiently and quietly as they possibly could, though they were not sorry to finally be able to open their eyes and breathe on their own terms. “So, do we all feel centered now?” This query from Zarney was met with sepulchral silence. “Do we all feel at one with ourselves and each other and the universe?” This one was met a sigh of ennui from Phasma and a tsk of impatience from Finn. “How about we all sing our friendship song now?” This one was met with six gasps of shock and six shudders of dread. “I think I’m a little . . . hoarse today,” grunted Kylo, then cleared his throat as loudly as he could. “Yes, y-yes, me too,” Armitage chimed in, pretending to cough. “That bug that’s been going around Starkiller Base, you know—” “Let’s all join hands and sing, friends!” There was nothing for it. The seven beings in the circle linked hands, swayed, and joined in the dreaded ditty: “I love you, you love me, We’re a happy family . . .” (At this point, if a few of those present began to sense dark currents rippling through the Force, they said nothing about it.) “With a GREAT big hug and a kiss from me to you, Won’t you say you l—” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” Kylo screamed, jumping from his chair and kicking it over; it split in two on impact with the hard linoleum floor. The others gave him a wide berth as he rampaged about the room, kicking, shoving, or throwing anything he could find that was not nailed down, all while occasionally shouting things like “GAAAH!,” “ARRGHH!,” “URRGHH!,” and “GRAAAH!” Finally, clenching his hand in a fist, he approached Zarney, who began to gag. Several of the others gasped. “NowreallyIthinkwecanworkthisoutifweGAAACK—” “I’VE HAD ENOUGH!” Kylo yelled. “ENOUGH HUMILIATION! ENOUGH MANIPULATION! ENOUGH CHILDISH MINDGAMES! And ENOUGH! OF THAT RASSAFRACKIN’! SONG!” “YesIunderstandhowyoufeelbut—“ “If I had my lightsaber I’d SKEWER YOUR SORRY PURPLE REAR!” “Yeah, me too!” put in Finn, jumping up and brandishing a fist. “Nowpleasecanwefindsomeotherwaytoworkoutallthisnegativity—” Poe stepped forward and regarded the gagging Lasat sidelong. “Now me and Kylo here, we don’t always see eye to eye,” he said. “But this time I have to agree with him. Quiet centering time? Big balls of energy in the middle of the room? The ‘I Love You’ song? With beings older than one and a half standard years of age? Not cool, man. Really not cool.” “Yeah, really not cool!” added Finn again. “So what I’m going to recommend is that you clear on out of this room right now, or else my friend Kylo’s gonna whup your violaceous posterior from here to—” “Oh, enough of this nonsense!” barked Phasma. “Leave this to me!” She went over to Zarney’s briefcase, which was standing in one corner of the room, and extracted a large, formidable-looking syringe, which she shoved into the Lasat’s arm. He immediately slumped to the floor, unconscious. “There. That should be good for the next two hours, at very least.” Applause went up from the others, and when it finally died down, everyone—in absolute earnest—took several deep breaths. * * * “All right, now, where were we?” There was silence for a few moments. Then Armitage cleared his throat and turned to Phasma. “Erm, well . . . you mentioned hearing Sixth Eye Blind in concert?” “Oh yes.” Phasma’s eyes lit up. “It was five years ago, in Darropolis, on Equinox Day. Absolutely stupendous.” “Ooh, Sixth Eye Blind!” exclaimed Rey. “One of the things my parents left behind was a nine-track chip of their debut album. But I was always kind of more into They Might Be Phlogs.” Phasma’s eyes lit up even more, as did Armitage’s. “I love They Might Be Phlogs!” “Ohmigosh, me too!” In mere moments all three of their voices had joined in rousing chorus: “Midichlorian Man, Midichlorian Man, doing all the things a midichlorian can . . .” Poe and Finn could do nothing but gawk in amazement, tap their feet, and attempt a tentative conversation about Takinoo Quadinaros. Meanwhile, Kylo had been rummaging in a nearby storage closet. Partway through the “Galaxy Man” verse, he emerged, carrying several rackets under his arm and holding up a canister of fuzzy, bright orange balls. “Tennis, anyone?” “Sure,” replied Finn eagerly, grateful for the change of subject. “But Kylo—there’s one thing I gotta tell you—” He could not finish his sentence, because at this point Poe chimed in, clearly also grateful for the change of subject. “As I was saying . . . a beautiful sport, made even more beautiful by Shiraya Williams. Whoo mama, those—” “Now DON’T YOU START!” scolded Phasma, breaking from the song and causing Armitage and Rey to do the same. “Shiraya Williams is a Galaxy-class athlete and I won’t stand for you objectifying her in that crass and undignified manner!” And then, shaking her head: “Men. Honestly.” “Yeah,” said Rey. “Tell me about it. Some of the guys in line at Unkar’s . . . just . . . ugh. Couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. Other appendages, too.” She shuddered visibly. “But then I started talking to them in Binary. That got them to stop.” “Hmm. I may need to try that with some of the junior officers of Starkiller Base,” mused Phasma. “They get the most . . . outrageous ideas sometimes. Just the other day some radar technician named Matt—” “I SAID, TENNIS, ANYONE?” bellowed Kylo. “Hey, I already said yes!” bellowed Finn in response. “But look, man, I really gotta tell you—” “Waiwaiwait,”Poe interrupted him. “Before we do anything, I would like to tell these two ladies”—he gestured to Phasma and Rey—“how sorry I am for being so insensitive about Shiraya Williams. I hope you’ll accept my apology.” “Sure.” “Of course.” “And now,” Poe continued, “I hope you won’t ask mind if I ask you two for your ptarmigan recipes?” Phasma perked up. “Not at all. Now, what I do is preheat the oven to 450°—” “That’s 230°C,” added Armitage, “or gas mark 8.” “—precisely. Then rub the ptarmigan with garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, and extra virgin olive oil, then drizzle it with the juice of one lemon—” “Y’know,” remarked Rey suddenly and dreamily, “I’ve never actually cooked with extra virgin olive oil before. But if you mix it with trillium soap”—here she leaned closer to Phasma and lowered her voice—“it’s really good for, you know, Auntie Flo-type stains.” “Interesting.” Phasma nodded. “I may have to try that. I’ve been using a mixture of bacta and cider vinegar, but it tends to . . . undermine the structural integrity of certain fabrics.” “Why don’t you ask Kylo?” suggested Rey. “I bet he would know all about cleaning blood stains out of things. Well . . . other kinds of blood, at least.” “Not a bad idea. Say, Kylo, would you be able to offer any suggestions for—” “I suggest,” growled Kylo, “that we GO PLAY TENNIS! RIGHT! RASSAFRACKIN’! NOW!” “Okay—okay—b-but Kylo—” It was Finn again. “See, here’s the deal . . . ” Kylo turned on Finn with a ferocious look. “YES?!” “Well, I wasn’t sure if you knew this, but—one of the rules of the Deepstar Station Lawn Tennis Club is that—is that you have to wear all white while on the court.” “WHITE? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” Kylo flung his armful of rackets across the room, and another wild chair-kicking rampage began. “GAAAH! ARRGHH! URRGHH! THIS IS NOT FAIR!!!” Meanwhile, the others simply grabbed the dropped rackets, while someone managed to retrieve the electronic keycard from Zarney’s briefcase and unlock the door. By the time Kylo had kicked over the last chair, they were on their way at full speed to the Deepstar Station Lawn Tennis Club. ¶ Spoiler: Notes pronk: Fanon music genre invented by, and borrowed from, Ewok Poet. The ptarmigan is a real-life bird. No idea whether they’re edible as poultry birds or not, though; I mainly chose it for its funny name. Takinoo Quadinaros: Fanon. Quadinaros, of course, comes from the Tund podracer Ben Quadinaros, one of the racers in The Phantom Menace, and Takinoo is bastardized from the name of a real-life Formula One driver introduced to me recently by Ewok Poet: Taki Inoue, whom she described to me as “the Jar-Jar of F1.” Shiraya Williams: Fanon. Three guesses which real-life tennis players she’s based on. (And there’s the goddess-associated-with-celestial-body connection, too: Shiraya is the Naboo moon goddess in Legends lore.) Sixth Eye Blind is, of course, based on the real-life band Third Eye Blind. I don’t know anything about them and there’s no particular reason why I chose them other than I happened to see their name on Wikipedia’s list of alternative rock groups and thought it looked cool. They Might Be Phlogs is, of course, patterned on They Might Be Giants (on Phlogs, see http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Phlog). “some radar technician named Matt”: Kylo Ren/Adam Driver’s alter ego in the Saturday Night Live skit Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base. I’m not sure I can link to it here because it includes some strong language, but it’s hilarious and worth googling. And yes, chew on those implications for a moment! Deepstar Station: Fanon. I just needed a generically spacey-sounding space station name. And I don’t recommend trying to remove stains of any kind with EVOO. That was just me being ridiculous. Canon elements: Darropolis (city on Hosnian Prime): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Darropolis Equinox Day (a Hosnian holiday): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Equinox_Day (credit: Raissa Baiard) Lasat (the species of Zeb from Rebels): http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lasat Trillium soap: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Trillium_soap Finally, thank you to Lady_Misty for a mighty fun dare!